Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Light pollution impairs rainforest regeneration: Seed-dispersing bats avoid feeding in light polluted areas

Date:
March 10, 2014
Source:
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)
Summary:
Increasing light pollution in tropical habitats could be hampering regeneration of rainforests because of its impact on nocturnal seed-dispersers. These new findings show that seed-dispersing bats avoid feeding in light-polluted areas.

Frugivorous bats (Carollia sowelli) in Costa Rica.
Credit: Schneeberger K/IZW

Increasing light pollution in tropical habitats could be hampering regeneration of rainforests because of its impact on nocturnal seed-dispersers.These new findings were reported by scientists from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Berlin (IZW). The study -- published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology - is the first to show that seed-dispersing bats avoid feeding in light-polluted areas.

Related Articles


Working with Sowell's short-tailed bats (Carollia sowelli), Daniel Lewanzik from the IZW gave the bats a simple choice. He divided a flight cage into two compartments. One was naturally dark and the other was illuminated by a sodium street lamp, the most common form of street lighting in the world. Inside both parts of the cage the bats were offered their favourite fruits to harvest: pepper plants, nightshade and figs.

The results revealed that bats flew into the dark compartment twice as often as the compartment lit by a street lamp. The bats also harvested fruits almost twice as often in the dark compartment. In a second experiment Lewanzik illuminated pepper plants growing in the wild with a street light and measured the percentage of ripe fruit which bats harvested from plants in a dark location and from lit plants. While bats harvested 100 per cent of the marked, ripe fruit from the plants in the dark, only 78 per cent were taken from the lit plants. Although insect-eating bats have been shown to avoid foraging in light-polluted areas, this is the first study to show that fruit-eating bats also avoid lit areas.

This has important implications for forest regeneration in the tropics. Bats play a key role in pollinating plants and spreading their seeds, especially the seeds of species that are first to recolonise cleared land. "In tropical habitats bat-mediated seed dispersal is necessary for the rapid succession of deforested land because few other animals than bats disperse seeds into open habitats," says Daniel Lewanzik, doctoral candidate at the IZW and first author of the study. Under naturally dark conditions, bats produce a copious 'seed rain' when defecating seeds while flying. By reducing foraging of fruit-eating bats in lit areas, light pollution is likely to reduce seed rain, he commented.

In many tropical countries, light pollution is increasing rapidly as economies and human populations grow. Natural succession of forests could therefore suffer as tropical habitats become increasingly illuminated. "The impact of light pollution could be reduced by changes in lighting design and by setting up dark refuges connected by dark corridors for light-sensitive species like bats," Lewanzik says.

Background information:

* Sowell's short-tailed bat (Carollia sowelli) belongs to the large family of Phyllostomidae or leaf-nosed bats. The characteristic leaf like structure protruding upwards from their nose is believed to be involved in focusing the bats' ultrasonic biosonar beam more precisely. Their relatively broad wings allow them to fly slowly and to manoeuvre elegantly within the dense forest. This is necessary since they mainly feed on fruit of pepper plants from the genus Piper that grow in the understory. These fruit are usually long and thin spikes that bats harvest on the wing and then eat it as humans eat corn on the cob.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel Lewanzik, Christian C. Voigt. Artificial light puts ecosystem services of frugivorous bats at risk. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12206

Cite This Page:

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Light pollution impairs rainforest regeneration: Seed-dispersing bats avoid feeding in light polluted areas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310210610.htm>.
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). (2014, March 10). Light pollution impairs rainforest regeneration: Seed-dispersing bats avoid feeding in light polluted areas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310210610.htm
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Light pollution impairs rainforest regeneration: Seed-dispersing bats avoid feeding in light polluted areas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310210610.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins